Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea and Commercial Drivers

There’s no question that driver fatigue poses a serious threat to safety on our nation’s roadways. But just how bad is the threat? Well, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of fatigue-related crashes reported to the police each year stands at a staggering 100,000, many of which involve professional drivers in heavy commercial vehicles. That means an average of 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary damages each year as a result of fatigue-related accidents.

Truck drivers that have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who fail to adhere to treatment had a preventable crash rate five times higher according to researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Morris, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and colleagues. They also found that drivers with OSA who were fully compliant with the company-mandated treatment had a crash rate no different than that of the control group.

It is well-known that sleeping less than seven hours a night can have a negative impact on health. With the COVID-19 epidemic, truck drivers are working longer hours and have increased stress levels. Now more than ever, getting an adequate amount of sleep is important to maintain overall health, especially if a driver has been diagnosed with OSA.

Spread awareness about the risks associated with commercial driving during COVID-19. It’s important that we all do our part to help this important community during this difficult time.

Don’t Ignore The Snore!

Have you been getting enough sleep?

According to The American Psychological Association the recommended amount of sleep needed to remain healthy and alert is six to eight hours a day. When you get less than six hours of sleep each night the results can be devastating. Reflexes become slower which has been directly related to many high profile accidents and deaths. Sleep deprivation can induce heath disorders such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Lack of sleep can also contribute to depression and anxiety disorders. How do you know how well you are sleeping and if you need to seek further medical assistance?  An indicator that is often overlooked is snoring. 

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is a highly accepted method of measuring a patient’s sleepiness. The test consists of eight questions relating to situations where you might become sleepy. The scale is from 0 to 3. 0 would be the least sleepy and 3 would be the highest level of sleepiness or dozing. To calculate the results you add up all the values of the answers to the questionnaire and that is your total score. This score will help determine your level of sleepiness and whether you might want to seek further medical attention. This is something you can do on your own and should you be concerned with the results, please make an appointment with your doctor to discuss a plan. The NBN Group can offer home sleep studies for convenience. The home sleep study is a great way to identify if an individual has sleep apnea. Sleep Apnea, technically know as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), is caused by obstruction of the upper airway. During sleep, the muscles in the back of the throat relax causing the upper airway to become smaller. This is especially true during the deepest stages of sleep called Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep. A hypopnea is a decrease in airflow, while an apnea is a pause in airflow.  Apneas and hypopneas can occur due to blockage or if respiratory effort is not initiated.  During a sleep study the number of apneas and hypopneas per hour are documented.  This is called your apnea/hypopnea index or AHI. In some individuals the upper airway can actually collapse, causing a blockage of air movement into the lungs. When airflow is stopped for at least 10 seconds it is referred to as apnea. These apneas can occur many times each hour and hundreds of times each night. 

Health Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea

1. High blood pressure – Studies have shown that sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, also known as “hypertension.”

2. Heart disease – Untreated sleep apnea is a risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Sleep apnea increases your risk for an irregular heartbeat, coronary artery disease, heart attack and congestive heart failure.

3. Stroke – Sleep apnea increases your risk for stroke, the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the CDC.

4. Brain damage – The damage caused by sleep apnea affects brain structures that help control functions such as memory, mood and blood pressure.

5. Depression – Research shows that depression is common in people with sleep disordered breathing.

6. Diabetes – Sleep apnea is associated with impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance.

7. Obesity – Obesity is a key risk factor for sleep apnea. But there is increasing evidence that sleep apnea also may promote weight gain. Sleep apnea can fragment sleep, reducing daytime energy and physical activity. It can also disrupt metabolism. Sleep apnea may alter the levels of hormones that regulate your appetite, which may lead you to eat more.

The most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea is the use of CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). CPAP therapy works by creating positive air pressure within the back of the throat, preventing airway collapse and apnea. This positive pressure pushes out on the walls of the throat, creating an “air splint” within the airway in much the same way that water pressure within a garden hose pushes out on the walls of the hose preventing it from collapsing.

People who use CPAP tell us good things about themselves:

  • Fewer Feelings of Stress
  • Fewer Impotence Issues
  • Better Weight Control
  • Increased Energy
  • Feeling More Happy
  • Reduced Daytime Sleepiness.

If you are currently using CPAP therapy for your sleep apnea and need supplies, NBN Medical Boutique carries a full line of CPAP machines and accessories. CPAP therapy services are available through NBN Infusions.

Remember- Before starting any new health related plan, speak to your doctor to discuss the best options for you!

To get more information on Home Sleep Studies click here.

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale (How Sleepy Are You?)

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations? You should rate your chances of dozing off, not just feeling tired. If you have not done some of these things recently try to judge how they would have affected you. For each situation, decide how you would rate your chance of dozing based on the following scale:

0 = No chance of dozing· 1 = Slight chance of dozing· 2 = Moderate chance of dozing· 3 = High chance of dozing. Write down the number corresponds to your choice in the right hand column.

Situation                                                                    Score from 0-3

Watching TV  
As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break  
Sitting inactive in a public place(e.g., a theater or a meeting)   
Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit  
Sitting and talking to someone  
Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol  
In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic  
Sitting and reading  

Total your score – Add the values of the right column together.

Total Score = ________________________

Analyze Your Score:

0-7 – It is unlikely that you are abnormally sleepy

8-9 – You have an average amount of daytime sleepiness

10-15 – Depending on the situation you may be excessively sleepy. You may want to consider seeking medical attention

16-24 – You are excessively sleepy and should consider seeking medical attention.

Reference: Johns MW. A new method for measuring daytime sleepiness: The Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Sleep 1991; 14(6):540-5. This printed version of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale is provided courtesy of Talk About Sleep, Inc.



CPAP Cleaning Supplies – (mask wipes, spray, and concentrated cleanser to clean the mask and tubing)

Pur-Sleep Aromatherapy – (to help desensitize CPAP, claustrophobia, and anxiety when using the CPAP)

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